in terms of spirituality and spiritual
Spirituality is the way we
seek and express meaning and purpose; the way we experience our
connection to the moment, self, others, our world and the
significant or sacred. (adapted from California
Lutheran Homes Centre for Spirituality and Ageing)
The definition of
connectedness is a feeling of belonging to or having affinity with
a particular person or group.
These are some definitions to
have in mind when spending time with older people or people with a
life-threatening illness. In our church environment we take
it for granted that people have a relationship with God. Have
you ever asked what is most important to a person when they are
facing their own death or when they are encountering
A person’s wellbeing is
affected when they are disconnected from what is important to them.
When a person moves into an aged-care facility there are many
disconnections. Consider their disconnection from their faith
community, their family, friends, pets, their possessions, and
their home to name a few. As nurses, it is important for us
to consider this and the implications these disconnections have for
people and how we can care for them better if we anticipate their
loss and facilitate reconnection wherever we can.
The best way to find out about
a person’s connections is to do an assessment.
Meaningful Ageing Australia
Australia’s peak national body for spiritual care and ageing. It is
a not-for-profit body that supports organisations and groups to
respond to the pastoral and spiritual needs of older people, their
significant others, and their carers. It is about
to release a spiritual screening tool called
ConnecTo. This tool is designed for use as
a person enters a residential aged-care facility. It has been
designed in such a way that it can be used with people of any faith
or no faith. The tool can also be useful in circumstances
such as in the community or in palliative care.
There are five realms of
connection to consider in a spiritual assessment: connection with
self, nature, creativity, relationship or ‘something bigger’.
The tool uses a visual map that can be used with the person,
or with their proxy in the case of dementia. Spiritual
distress can then be identified using this assessment tool and
appropriate referrals can be made. This is a tool that can be
utilized by parish nurses.
Spiritual care is much bigger
than religious care, faith support and rituals. It is about
connecting with people on a meaningful level. This builds
relationships, and minimises loneliness and isolation. It may
even give the opportunity to share the good news and bring
Meaningful Ageing Australia can be
found at http://meaningfulageing.org.au/
Pastoral Care Nurse, Lutheran
Aged Care Albury NSW (Australia)